99-cent vacation in Paris
On the far downside of sixty, the only thing that resembles a television set in my small cluttered low-income apartment is a portable videotape monitor. I used it twenty years ago when I was writing television spots and didn’t have the heart just to trash it when I closed out my storage unit. I had some vague notion of showing old VHS copies of some spots for which I won awards back then to — well, I didn’t know to whom. Who would care? But anyway I kept it. Not long thereafter, when I stopped at the local Goodwill Store to pick up a couple of used books, I was surprised to see stacks of VHS movies near the book shelves: dozens and dozens of them, some still pristine in their original shrink wrap.
The price was 99 cents apiece.
Labels and stickers on the boxes identified once-prosperous video rental stores, as well as grocery chains. The clerk said they were either donated as surplus or collected when stores went out of business.
A relentless flood of technology has inundated many of my favorite things: my old manual typewriters, then my stacking record player, then the eight-track tape player in my ’71 VW Beetle and finally dash radios with readable dials and a tuning knob with which to chase the atmospheric skip across a darkened nation.
Here at last, in a Goodwill store in Washington State, the tide had washed up technological flotsam perfect for my old monitor.
I couldn’t have been more tickled if I’d stumbled across a functioning record-player for my old long-playing records that haven’t been out of their sheaths for thirty years. I grabbed Patton, Field of Dreams, The Thirteenth Warrior, Basic Instinct and a few so forgettable that I tossed them only half played. I seemed to be the only one buying them.
In all my years of living with sleep apnea, I have never figured out how to wear reading glasses with my CPAP mask. Reading myself to sleep hasn’t been an option in decades. My vision is fine, unaided, across the room, so the 99-cent specials became my go-to-sleep entertainment. Sometimes the plots got all tangled up in my dreams, not a bad thing if the movie featured Sharon Stone, for instance.
This is all preamble to my discovery of a concert video of Diana Krall in Paris.
Diana Krall is a bluesy blonde of whom I had never heard, with incredibly nimble fingers on a piano keyboard and a strong, unusual voice. She was sided by very talented drums and strings, and backed up by something approaching a full orchestra that happened to be salted with a lot of good-looking women that I could well imagine tripping lightly down the Paris boulevards past the sidewalk cafes that I knew as a young soldier.
Diana Krall’s raw, slangy delivery sang me to sleep the first night. Once her side-man’s electric-guitar solo took me away, and another time the solitary thudding of the superb base player. The mellow smoothness of the supporting orchestra was almost subliminal. And boy! Can she tickle those ivories!
The high tide of technology rolls ever onward, leaving me happily marooned back here, smiling in the dark with Diana Krall on my 99-cent vacation in Paris.